Friday, February 29, 2008

Off to Goa

I'm heading out to Goa today. I will be back on Tuesday (4th March).

The last time I took my laptop to the seaside I triggered a tsunami! So, I may not take my laptop this time!

I'm really excited about this trip.

Proud of my lawn

I took to gardening a few years back.

After two failed attempts at getting grass to grow in a nice manner, I found the right guy to help and had the grass planted. I also got some Arecka palms and other plants and a small garden in my backyard. I also put some plants (including the lovely Philodanda) in the front of my house next to the portico.

The Arecka palms have really grown into fine sturdy beauties.

I've received a lot of compliments for my lawn. It has been a slow journey. You have to be patient with plants. No overnight results.

An aunt got swindled by a quack who used to give "injections" to her plants (some horrible concoction of steroids, I presume) which made the plants grow so fast that they looked abnormal even to the untrained eye. The poor plants did not survive beyond a few months though.

Patience is the key. Slowly but surely they will grow into the best parts of your house.

Every morning, as I sip my cuppa, I really enjoy taking in the freshness of the lawn and the breeze that blows through the palms.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Watermelons are king!

For the longest time, mangoes were my favorite fruit (as were, I'm sure for many others). But ever since I was diagnosed with kidney disease, watermelons have become my favorite!

Does it have anything to do with the fact that I'm on a fluid restricted diet and watermelons have water in their name and are mostly water? I'm not sure. By that logic, I should have loved mangoes too because I'm on a potassium restricted diet and mangoes are high potassium.

The best memory I have of watermelons are from a place called Kalambole on the outskirts of Mumbai. It was a hot Mumbai summer afternoon. About 20 cousins from Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad had gathered at my aunt's house in Mumbai for a week-long 'Summer Camp'.

Among other fun things we did, we drove to this place called Kalambole where there were about 50 roadside vendors selling watermelons, each of whom had a stock of about 1000 watermelons.

The setting was ideal. The sun was scorching. We picked a vendor. All 20 of us got out of the cars. And the vendor started cutting one watermelon after another. All of us started gorging on one slice after another.
We probably never had so much watermelon in our lives before! And we had never had such a good time before too!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Relationships while on dialysis

To my earlier post Treading cautiously, Bill Peckham asked "I hope when you wrote "I know that in my situation, this is not a luxury I can afford" you did not just mean dialysis."

Unfortunately, I did mean dialysis. I feel (my opinion only) that having relationships while on dialysis is difficult. Not impossible certainly, but difficult. And more so in the Indian context.

I feel scared. Of rejection. I'm not exactly a cracker of a looker! (Well, I'm not that bad either!) And to add to it, I have this huge fistula in my upper left arm. People have been shocked on seeing it. I also find it difficult to climb more than a flight of stairs. I am on a restricted fluid diet. With all this, I'm too scared to even try.

For me, rejection will be too emotionally disturbing to take a chance. Heck, even normal people feel scared to try and take things forward.

Again, this is ONLY MY view. I'm sure there are many people who probably have fallen in love and succeeded with a chronic disease. Hats off to them!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Anonymous Comments

I really appreciate people who go through my posts and then take the trouble to leave a comment. But I would really, really urge you to put in your name at the end of your comment so that I can know who it was. Thanks!

Treading cautiously

I've been in serious love once before and it had disastrous consequences.

I knew things would not work out. But you don't realize these things, do you? I went ahead, got mired in it, deeper and deeper with each passing day.

In the end, when things blew up in my face, it was really difficult to handle. I could really have done without another problem. But, as I said before, you don't realize these things.

Now, I suspect I'm going down that route once again. I need to avoid this at all costs. I know that in my situation, this is not a luxury I can afford.

Fortunately, I am conscious about this, this time round. I know what's happening. I need to take steps to not let it happen.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Making a living out of your passion

Dennis Powell...how much I envy him!

Dennis Powell taught me music at school. Music classes were always fun. The songs got bigger with each class! Mr. Powell would play deftly on the Electric Organ and would teach us songs which we would sing after him. Waltzing Matilda, The bear went over the mountain, Country Roads and so many more...

Mr. Powell belongs to the famous Powell Brothers music group of Hyderabad. Music runs in their blood. And he is so passionate about music. One of his daughters is named Melody!

I envy him because he is able to make a living out of his passion. He taught music for years and now also plays an Electric Piano at the Taj Krishna every evening. You can see him enjoying his profession to the hilt. Which is not what I can say about me and many others.

For me, my profession is one thing and my passion quite another.

Imagine being able to sustain myself by what I enjoy doing. Utopia!

The final steps to liberation...tougher than I thought

Cannulation was first, priming was next. The last frontier is actual connecting the tubes together and starting blood flow and dialysis.

The way I mastered cannulation and priming, I thought starting dialysis would be a piece of cake. I could not have been more wrong!

The whole process of getting so much blood out of your system and getting it to flow through the tubes, making sure the heparin is started on time, opening and closing the correct valves can be quite unnerving.

Well, I'm sure the more experienced dialyzors are smiling as they read this and wondering what all the fuss is about. But, for me, the whole process has been a little confusing.

Maybe the process is not as complicated as I'm making it out to be but the stakes are much higher than cannulation and priming. With blood actually out of the body, I am more panicky and careful.

I'm sure I will gain confidence with every treatment and eventually get out of this mode.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Goa trip finalised!

Ok, so my Goa trip is now 'pucca'!

I've just booked my tickets. We (my parents, brother (Karan) and I) will be leaving by the afternoon flight on Friday, the 29th of this month and returning by the evening flight on Tuesday, the 4th of March.

A resort has been booked for the first day and we will change for the next 3 days if we don't like it.

I have also booked dialysis treatments on the evenings of 1st and 3rd March at Vrundavan Hospital, Mapusa, Goa which is about 15-20 minutes from our resort.

This will be my first vacation after the Tsunami! That's really a long time back - December 2004 - more than 3 years!

I had a lot of concerns about how it will all work out but was reassured by Bill Peckham, an indefatigable traveler on dialysis. Thanks a ton, Bill!

Browser Bothers

Why don't people realize that there are browsers other than Internet Explorer?

I've been trying to book tickets for my Goa trip for the last 2 days on Firefox on my Mac. First of all the site (Air Deccan) was extremely slow. When I finally entered the details and hit "Next", it took forever and eventually timed out.

I kept thinking it was due to the traffic on the site. Then I decided to try my mom's laptop which has Windows XP (ugghh!).

Surprisingly, everything worked like a charm. The pages loaded up fast and the credit card processing went through like a breeze.

Now, I'm sure that has nothing to do with the operating system but more to do with the browser the site has been optimized for!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Travelling on dialysis

I have always loved to travel. When I was on Peritoneal Dialysis, I could travel quite comfortably. Baxter has a good network in India and they would deliver the PD fluid wherever I wanted. I made a couple of really enjoyable trips (Kodaikanal, Mahabaleshwar) while on PD.

On Hemo, things are very different. You HAVE to have a dialysis center where you go because portable machines like the NxStage System One are not available in India.

Most places where I would like to go to (hill stations like Darjeeling, Manali etc.) do not have dialysis centers and I would need to travel around 3 hours to get to a facility.

It recently struck me that Goa, a great place to holiday would definitely have dialysis centers. So, I decided to check and found that they do have dialysis centers!

So, I have started to plan a short trip there.

There is one thing that I'm a little worried about. I am now used to nocturnal dialysis 6 nights a week. Centers will not do this (they have probably not even heard of something like this!). So, I will have to make do with 4 hour treatments, probably on alternate days. And this means fluid restrictions. Imagine going on a holiday and being worried to death about fluids.

I don't know how it will turn out. I cannot afford to drink too much fluid because there will be only a 4 hour treatment to pull it off.

I'm worried about this to the point of thinking of canceling the whole trip.

I wish they could do daily nocturnal even if in center. I should probably talk to the nephrologist there to try and arrange this.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pool time!

After a couple of cold months, the temperature is touching the 20s again (degrees centigrade!)

And I'm back to my favourite activity - swimming!

I hit the pool last Sunday and am going again today. I feel absolutely ecstatic to be able to do this.

We're also planning a trip to Ethipothala waterfalls again.

I'm a master primer!

Over the last few days I've been priming like crazy!

To the uninitiated, priming is the procedure of removing air and formalin from the dialysis tubings before actually starting dialysis.

Many people do not reuse dialysers and tubings. Most people in India usually do. After a dialysis treatment is completed, the dialyser and tubings are cleaned with water, bleach and formalin and reused. I reuse the dialyser and tubings for 6 nightly treatments.

So, before a treatment starts, the dialyser and tubings have to be drained of all the formalin and any air that might be there.

I have slowly learned that procedure and do it myself these days.

So, now I do the priming and I do the cannulation. The only thing I need to learn in the pre dialysis procedures is the part where the tubings are connected to the needles. I can then actually start dialysis myself!

Tejas Devdarsh Paleti is born


Yes, that's Chetan and Pavithra's son who was born on 25th January!

I'm so happy for them.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The lovely Philodanda

When I set up my garden a couple of years back, the botanist at the nursery where I picked all my stuff from had suggested the Philodanda. The piece he gave me was quite small but the leaves were a bright green and very attractive.

I had put the plant among the other plants and watched it grow slowly into a lovely 5 foot something with big bright green leaves. And then I made a mistake.

I took it to my office and put it in my room in front of two Arecka palms. The corner looked beautiful.

The problem was there was no sunlight that entered that part of the room and in a matter of few days, the leaves drooped and turned brown. Soon, most of the leaves died.

I had to bring it back home.

Then, I took special care and made sure that the plant got enough sunlight and water. I also bought another one.

Now, I am happy to say that the Philodanda is in 'full bloom' and occupies a place of pride in my garden.

Kidney Talk

Recently, I came across this online talk show called Kidney Talk. It is a radio kind of show where two people with kidney disease, Lori Hartwell and Stephen Furst discuss a wide range of topics related to kidney disease with a new guest in every episode.

They have podcasts for each episode. I downloaded most of the episodes and synced up with my iPhone and I now have most of them on my iPhone. I listen to these episodes from time to time - many times during the half an hour or so that I need to wait in the morning for my treatment to finish.

Many of the episodes are amazing.

The best part for me is to listen to people who have gone through or are going through exactly the same emotions as I am. Yesterday I heard one with a lady from Armenia, now in the US. She talked about fluid restrictions and nurses telling her to control fluid intake. It was almost as she was speaking my mind. The part where she said she went to drink water knowing fully well that she wasn't thirsty made an inexplicable emotion run through me. This was so true in my case as well.

Its really great that so many online resources are now available for dialyzors. To listen to people in similar situations as me is so comforting. Its reassuring to know I am not alone. And that I do not have to feel guilty for this way of thinking.